Cabbage Beach protest trial ends over witness no-shows
Prosecutors yesterday withdrew charges against 10 people arrested following a heated protest over access to Cabbage Beach more than two years ago.
Sergeant 2632 Kendrick Bauld withdrew the charges after two senior police witnesses — ACP Leamond Deleveaux and Superintendent Kemmie Hinsey — did not show up to testify by the court-imposed deadline of 1 p.m.
Though the discharge does not serve as an acquittal, presiding Magistrate Ambrose Armbrister explained to the defendants that they could not be prosecuted again on the charges of resisting arrest, obstruction, and assaulting a police officer as the statute of limitations had already passed.
Urvan Moxey, 48; Miguel Joseph, 28; Lincoln Bain, 41; Jahro Saunders, 25; Francis Johnson, 52; Derek Cox, 60; Herbert McIntosh, 61; Sam Butler, 54; Derek Thompson, 66 and Trevor Lightbourne, 46, were arrested on March 1 after tearing down a fence that had been erected to prevent access to the popular Paradise Island beach.
Theoretically, the charge of causing damage could be reinstated, as it is a hybrid offense that can be tried in both the Supreme Court and Magistrates’ Court.
However, Armbrister emphasized that this too was unlikely since the virtual complainant in the damage case, security officer Alexander Roberts had not appeared to testify in the two years the matter had been pending before the court.
The defendants said, “God Bless, you sir,” as the magistrate admonished them to leave the court quietly.
In January, Armbrister, the fifth magistrate to have carriage of the matter, had given the prosecution a final chance to complete its case.
But when the matter was called on Monday, Bauld did not have the case file.
Bauld said he believed that the file had been forwarded to the Office of the Attorney General; however, this was not the case.
Though the file was eventually produced around noon, no witnesses had been summoned. Yet, Bauld informed the court that his commanding officer Superintendent Marlon Fulford said that Deleveaux and Hinsey were on their way.
Defense attorneys Branville McCartney and Donald Saunders objected to the adjournment to await the arrival of the witnesses.
Saunders said, “We still have no idea when the witnesses are coming when they should have been here from 10 a.m.”
McCartney said, “This is totally unfair. This matter has been pending since March 9, 2016. There is no way that this case will be closed today.”
Armbrister assured the lawyers that the matter would be concluded “one way or the other” when the case resumed at 1 p.m.
During the brief adjournment, the defendants held hands outside the court and prayed.